Speculation over Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona has taken another twist after the superstar reportedly ignored phone calls from one of the club's directors, despite rumours a new contract has already been agreed.
Spanish outlet Diario Gol reported Messi "rejected" one director's efforts to get in touch with him, leading to further suggestions the Argentinian ace could be considering his future elsewhere (h/t Daily Mirror's Joe Mewis).
It's said in the Mirror report that Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has already conveyed to some that Messi signed a new deal with the club back in late June, although no official announcement has been made.
Blaugrana supporters may feel aggrieved to hear suggestions Messi's relationship with the Barcelona hierarchy could be breaking down, although manager Ernesto Valverde has no such concerns, via Goal:
Chill out! Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has told anxious fans not to worry about Lionel Messi's contract situation. 📝 https://t.co/HOEL7yLvTd2017-11-18 09:03:19
The Catalan giants are currently four points clear at the summit of La Liga and through to the next round of the UEFA Champions League, but that success hasn't prevented rumours of a 2018 Messi move advancing.
However, on-pitch success doesn't always equate to success off of it, and sports journalist Tumaini Carayol recently explored Barca's recent tumultuous times in other sectors:
Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic has also said while he's "confident" team-mate Messi will sign a new contract at the club, there is some uncertainty regarding his future in Catalonia.
Messi's current deal is due to expire at the end of this season, and Rakitic conceded that while he'd like to play alongside the Argentinian for years to come, there's no guarantee that will be the case, per Mikael McKenzie of the Daily Express:
"Leo's part of the club's badge. I am confident he will [stay].
"He is not just a very important player, he is more than that, looking at his career, how much he means for Barca.
“I can't say 100 per cent if he will stay or not. That's his decision and you have to respect what each person thinks or does."
The Croat continued that he and fans alike hope to see "the picture, the handshake" of Messi officially penning new terms at the Camp Nou, having already spent close to 17 years at the club.
His signature is one of the few in the world that, until now, has seemed unobtainable for any suitor, and yet Bleacher Report's Matt Jones recently highlighted there is a growing sense of urgency regarding his new deal:
Matt Jones @MattJFootball
In 43 days teams can legally approach Lionel Messi about signing a pre-contract and moving for free next summer...2017-11-18 09:32:21
Of course, there is a possibility the long wait on a new contract is posturing on behalf of Messi and his representation to land the best deal possible, a tactic that's far from unheard of at this level in the sport.
Ignoring phone calls from the club's upper echelon altogether is one way to send a message without saying a word, and if recent reports prove genuine, the risk of Messi leaving Barca may be bigger than first thought.